Primary Source

Chinggis Khan on his father Yesügei


This comment of Chinggis Khan about his father appears in the learned official Rashid al-Din’s Compendium of Chronicles, finished about 1310, so it was probably first handed down orally. In the first part of the comment, Chinggis Khan seems to be extolling his father’s toughness: he had great skills and did not suffer from hunger or thirst. But then he takes a turn, and points out that Yesügei did not take into account the needs of his troops. Thus to Chinggis Khan, the best warrior did not always make the best leader; ideal manliness involved empathy for the needs of others, or at least enough empathy to keep troops not overly fatigued and ready for battle. Yesügei died when Chinggis Khan was nine years old, probably as a result of poisoning.

This source is a part of the Masculinity and Femininity in the Mongol Empire teaching module.


There is no warrior like Yesügei Bahadur, and no one possesses the skills he had; he did not suffer from hardship, and was not affected by hunger or thirst. He thought his liege men could suffer hardship as well as he could, but they couldn’t. A man is worthy of leadership who knows what hunger and thirst are, and who can judge the condition of others thereby, who can go at a measured pace and not allow the soldiers to get hungry and thirsty, or the horses to get worn out.
Rashid al-Din, Compendium of Chronicles

How to Cite This Source

"Chinggis Khan on his father Yesügei," in World History Commons, [accessed January 28, 2023]